Prague richest city in post-communist zone

11-08-2006

Prague is the richest city in the former Eastern Bloc, says the Swiss bank UBS in its annual index of the richest cities in the world. For the second year in a row, the Czech capital has an edge over Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital, which ranks 43rd on the index, while Prague is 41st.

Prague ranks above them all—above Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw, Riga, and even above Ljubljana. According to data collected by the Swiss bank UBS—which ranked cities according to prices, incomes and purchasing power—of all the post-communist cities of central Europe, the highest standard of living is afforded to residents of the Czech capital, Prague. The global UBS index has granted Prague this status for the second consecutive year, ranking the city 41st, just behind Singapore.

Marius Dragomir, a Romanian who resides in Prague and travels extensively in central Europe on behalf of the Open Society Institute, explains why the Czech capital is such an attractive place:

Photo: CzechTourismPhoto: CzechTourism "There is a large offer of almost everything you can think of. I'm thinking here of all these movies, theaters, and then you also have a very big selection of sports activities. You can basically participate in any sport, and at a very good price. Of course Prague also remains a great spot for food, restaurants, with great offers so long as you are not talking about restaurants in the tourist centers which are sometimes ripping off the tourists. Otherwise there is a great offer of almost everything. What is also great for the city is that it has attracted—over the past ten to fifteen years—a lot of foreigners, which makes it a very diverse place. I would also add that it's one of the safest places that I've seen so far. In recent years I have heard about more problems with pick-pocketing, some robberies and thefts and so on, but still I would say that the city remains a very safe place."

Photo: CzechTourismPhoto: CzechTourism Affordable and increasingly diverse, Prague is also a hub for international companies operating in central Europe. Its niche is partially geographic, in a stable zone of central Europe, well-connected by air and railways, and thus a logical center for foreign companies to set-up shop. Foreigners like Marius Dragomir, who has lived in Prague for six years, have an increasingly easier time navigating the city:

"I think that what is really great in Prague is the fact that you can navigate it very well, the city is very easy to handle. First of all, the public transportation is wonderful here and this was one thing that I noticed when I came here some six years ago. Then in the past years the city has developed a lot in terms of offering what I would say are good services for a good price. Over the past years I've seen that everything in Prague became a bit more expensive than it used to be some years ago, but it's probably not such a big difference. However, what I want to stress is that it is really, I would say, affordable for everybody to enjoy almost everything."

While the UBS index indicates that there is still a significant difference in the living standards between Prague and nearby Vienna, which ranks 21st on the index, the Czech capital is on the right path.

11-08-2006